On the af
ternoon of October 27, 2016, University of Toledo student Eric Bishop returned to his car in the East Ramp Parking Garage to find an explicit note taped to his windshield and a vulgar illustration keyed on his trunk.
The university police report on the incident read, “There are no known suspects at this time.”
Upon review of nine police reports involving theft and criminal incidents in both the East and West Ramp Parking Garages over the last two years, only two individuals were caught on camera.
According to an officer of the University of Toledo Police Department’s dispatch team, there are three cameras upon entrance and a pan-tilt camera facing towards the top in both the East and West Ramp Parking Garages. There are no cameras on the levels in between.
Until speaking with the dispatch team, Jeff Newton, the University of Toledo police chief, was unaware of the number and location of cameras in each garage.
“The parking garages are quite ‘camera’d up,’ so there is a lot of camera coverage,” said Newton.
Newton soon retracted his statement upon entering the surveillance room and speaking with the officer monitoring the feed.
“I thought we had stuff that shot down some of the lanes,” said Newton.
Due to the limited amount of surveillance, university police reports show a common theme in their incident descriptions.
In one case involving theft in the East Ramp Parking Garage, the officer reported, “I attempted to view camera footage of the incident but was unable to have a viewable angle of the incident.”
In a criminal mischief case in the West Ramp Parking Garage, the officer reported, “There were no suspects or any video evidence to review.”
Second-year mechanical engineering major Jane Woodbury is among those concerned with the lack of camera coverage.
“I do not believe there’s only three cameras [upon entrance] in the parking garage. That is ridiculous. How can people feel safe?” Woodbury said.
Second-year media communications major Lauren Hite feels increased surveillance may help with traffic violations that pose safety risks.
“People go really fast. Maybe the cameras could help that too,” said Hite. “I know people go around with parking and ticket, but are they really looking for security?”
According to an article published by certified security consultant Ralph Witherspoon, “Because garages and parking lots contain valuable vehicles and their contents, plus the car occupants who also represent potential victims, both are frequent favored ‘hunting grounds’ for robbers and thieves.”
Witherspoon goes on to explain the effectiveness of surveillance inside of parking structures.
“The threat to persons and property in covered/enclosed parking garages can be even higher than the threat in open lots, because isolated floors and locations often make effective surveillance or monitoring difficult. However, adequate lighting and the use of Closed Circuit Television monitoring can reduce (but not eliminate) the crime risk,” Witherspoon wrote.
Despite the stated risk of a structure lacking sufficient camera coverage, fourth-year criminal justice major Abraham Baryaruha feels secure in his surroundings.
“For the most part, I feel safe,” Baryaruha said. “So far nothing has happened. I’m more aware of my surroundings.”
Bishop, as the victim of a crime in the East Ramp Parking Garage, does not feel surveillance would have helped his case.
“It would be nice knowing that everything could be monitored with [the cameras], but I don’t feel as if they are really that necessary,” Bishop said.
Individuals who feel unsafe in either parking garage may turn to the Emergency Blue Light Phones located near the stairwell entrances of the structures or any of the 50 others located around Main Campus.
To report a crime or request assistance, call the University Toledo Police Department at 419-530-2600.